Saturday 24 June 2017

The Saturday List #135 - My Bucket list aged Eight and Eleven Twelfths!

I was serously thinking about what was the happiest month of my life. I'm not entirely sure, because I didn't write it down, but I'd guess that Late July-August 1971 would be up there. I was eight and eleven twelfths. Don't get me wrong, life had its challenges, but my mum was recovering well from an operation for what we were told was a "terminal cancer" (she passed in 2008 aged 83). It was the summer holidays and every year I'd go away with my Dad whilst Mum stayed at home and made sure the family business ran smoothly. I was quite a happy kid then, hadn't quite hit teenage angst. Back in 1971, we didn't have bucket lists, but if we did what would have been on it. Here's a list of some of the things I really hankered after. I spent most of the summer playing in my back garden with my best friends Ricky and Luke who lived next door. We used to build dens, play with cardboard boxes, we had a large paddling pool that would be out all summer if it was hot, we had two other games. One was Barricades of war which involved building dens out of iron and bombarding them with clods of dried clay (often with Luke inside). The purpose was to build an indestuctable den. The other game was Monte Carlo Rally. This was our take on the famous car race. However it didn't involve cars. It involved hurtling around the garden, and skidding on the wet mudded area. All of the time we'd give off a commentary, rather like you got on F1 racing. That stopped when, against our advice , Luke chose a Ford Anglia as his rally car and unfortunately fell head first down a muddy hole, in his brand new coat. His mum banned any mention of Monte Carlo Rally after that.

I wondered what my bucket list would be then. It was mostly a list of super cool toys!

Image result for Hornby Blue Pullman set
The Blue Pulllman set
1. Own the Blue Midland Pullman Hornby Train set. This used to thunder past the bottom of my garden as a kid and was the coolest train on the railway. I wasn't into steam engines. These were the future. Recently I read up on them and the design was really rather unsuccessful and they were scrapped as quickly as possible by BR in the seventies, when they decided that uniformity was the best way to save money. No more luxury. Quite criminal really! Sadly this was an ambition I never got. Mum said it was "too expensive" so I got a cheap rubbish set instead. I think I'm too old now!

Image result for Concorde
2. A flight on Concorde to New York. This was the future. My Dad vaguely knew the test pilot. He always wanted to fly on it. IT sounded brilliant. I too found the concept of a supersonic passenger plane amazing. We all believed that New York was some sort of mega city in the early 1970's, it always seemed like another world in the early 1970's when it had scyscrapers and we had Terraced houses. American shows always showed the skyscrapers of the New York. The cars were bigger and the Yanks seemed to have many far cooler things, comics, Bubblegum and donuts. I made it there, but not on Concorde, that is a dream I'll never fulfill now.

Image result for scalextric sets 1960
3. Own a Scalextrix set. This was another mega cool toy, which my Mum said was "too expensive", She used to send me "around to the Fannings" as they had one. Generally though, they never let me play with it, as all of the Fanning boys were older than me. I just used to watch in seething resentment and hope a few of them would go away. Whenever I did play with it I was rubbish, as I'd never got the track time! This yearning got worse when my sister moved to Silverstone to a teaching job. Her road was actually called "Graham Hill", Not sure whether it was after the champion driver. Never achieved this ambition.

Image result for dinky ufo interceptor
UFO Interceptor
4. Own a Dinky UFO Interceptor. I was obsessed with the series UFO. My sister was living in Northampton and itw as being shown in Central TV area, but not London. I saw one episode on a visit and was hooked. All of my mates said I was "lost in space". It was true, I became obsessed. I bought a telescope and would spend hours scouring the night skies. I built up a huge fantasy world in my head around the subject. These days they'd probably say it was unhealthy. I got one of these and it was my pride and joy. The problem was everyone lost the missile!

Image result for dinky James Bond DB6
James Bond DB6
5.  Own a Dinky James Bond DB6 car with an ejector seat. This was one of only three vehicles I've ever truly wanted to own. James Bond was the man. It may amuse many of you, especially my female friends, that I truly believed that the way to be successful with women was to be as like James Bond (circa Roger Moore period) as possible. I always thought Moore was the man. I saw having a DB6 wth an ejector seat as a key part of this appeal. Of course at 8 11/12ths I wasn't really that interested in girls, but I did realise that if I had a DB6, everyone would be very jealous of me. I also liked the machine guns, spinning number plates, smokescreen and oil slick. And you'll be pleased to know I eventually got one. A dinky model that is.

Image result for Action Man Mercury rocket capsule
Action Man Space Capsule
6. Own an Action Man Mercury Rocket Capsule. As I mentioned above, I was obsessed with space. Whilst my mates generally liked playing "lets kill Germans" with Action Man (any surprise we voted #Brexit), I was obsessed with the space toys he had. I nagged my parents mercilessly, but they said it was "too expensive". Fortunately Fr Traynor, a local priest and good friend of my Dad, took pity on me and bought me the Action Man Rocket Capsule for my birthday (he was a lovely guy and also took me to see the first Star Wars film. Unlike many, my experience of the RC clergy was incredibly positive and I hold the ones I know in the highest respect). I loved it. In 1970 my parents had a kitchen extension. This gave us a first floor balcony. With Ricky and Luke, we built a Space Station out of a cardboard box. We had a game where we'd go on the balcony with the space station and the Action Man rocket capsule on Fishing Rods and practise docking manouveres. One would hold the space station fishing rod, the other the Mercury and the third would sit in the kitchen and watch through the window, pretending it was the big screen at NASA, I suspect and shout instructions through a Tin can walkie talkie we'd made. I suspect that generally I was Luke in mission control.  He was the best at a fake American accent. So this was one I could tick off.

7. Get a dog. Every 8 & 11 month kid wants a pet. I wanted a Dog. My mum said it was too much trouble. We finally got one when I turned 13 and got a paper round. I told my mum I'd walk it every day. I did. He was a Beagle called Bruce. To this day I've always loved dogs & have had one for years.

8. Have a pond. As well as Space I was obsessed with water. I started to dig a pond aged about nine. I didn't want my mum to know so I disgused it, planning to tell her when it was finished. Sadly it was so well disguised, she fell in it and broke her ankle. I managed to persuade my Dad not to murder me by saying it was a trap for burglars. Suddenly his anger was replaced by admiration for my work. He said that all such future traps had to be signed off with him and mum in advance. I now own a pond.

9. Eat a cooked Fray Bentos pie in my hut, with Ricky and Luke. This may seem a modest ambition, but I was obsessed with Fray Bentos pies. I was clearly susceptible to advertising. I believed that Fray Bentos Pies would make me a man. I believed that as they were mans food they should be eaten in the den at the bottom of the garden. I believed that as Ricky and Luke were my best friends, they too would benefit from this. I suspect that everyone thought I was seriously nuts. My mum gave in on this to shut me up. Bad move, I became addicted. The truth however is they work! Myself, Ricky and Luke all grew up to be men.  Watch this commercial below to see how all this trouble started.

Image result for fresh pineapple
Fresh Pineapples
10. And finally. This one may perplex you. When I was eight years and eleven months, the thing I wanted most, but never got was a fresh pineapple. Every time we'd walk past the greengrocers, I'd ask my mum for one. But she always refused as they were "too messy". She'd only buy pineapple chunks. This annoyed me. I came up with a cunning plan to save my pocket money and buy one for myself. On the day, in an act of supreme spite, my sister Caroline told my mum of my plan to buy a "real pineapple" with my pocket money. My mum said "I'm going to the shops, give me the money and I'll get you one". She returned with a tin of pineapple chunks and a bad of sweets. I went mental. This persuaded my mother to take me to see a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist insisted that under no circumstances must I be given a real pineapple as this would reinforce the bad behaviour. Oh, they also gave me some medication, valium I believe,  that turned me into a zombie like presence. My Dad insisted I stop taking them. About a year later, my Dad took me out, bought a real pineapple and we ate it in the park, whilst he slurped a tin of long life beer and I drunk a tin of shandy. He said "Roger, the best thing in life is doing things you are not supposed to, if they don't hurt anyone". After we'd finished, he said "Son, was it really worth all of that trouble over a bloody pineapple?". I said "Yes, I think it was, it was great". To this day eating a pineapple gives me a buzz only surpassed by sex, playing the guitar and scoring a goal. Whatever that psychiatrist was hoping to suppress, he failed miserably!

And that, my friends, was my bucket list aged 8 and 11 months (possibly give or take a year on either side).

No comments: